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Digital Multitrack Recorders - How to Find the Right Digital Multitrack Recorders for Your Audio Needs

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Digital multitrack recorders are extremely popular in the audio production industry and today’s consumers have more purchasing options than ever before. In addition to being able to choose between hardware and software based systems, you can also find products that offer varying sampling rates, inputs, and onboard effects. With all of these choices, many people struggle to find the right digital audio recorders for their needs. Fortunately, the tips in this article can help.

Figure out how many channels you need to record:
A common mistake people make when purchasing a multitrack recorder is to purchase one that doesn’t have enough inputs. If you plan on recording bands or instrumental ensembles, you should invest in a recorder that has enough inputs to support each of the instruments or microphones that are going to be used in a single session. If you’re using the recorder to record only yourself playing, you’ll most likely be fine with just one or two audio inputs.

Think about which features you need:
Today’s digital recorders vary greatly in the number and types of features they provide. While some will only perform the most basic of functions, such as allowing you to record audio and sequence it in real-time, others will include onboard effects, like equalization and reverb. Find a digital multitrack recorder that has the features you require, but be wary of products that pack tons of features into a low-priced package since they often have poor audio quality.

Choose a product that provides the right sampling rate:
While some digital recorders allow you to choose the sampling rate at which you record, others do not. For professional recordings, you need to choose a device that offers a very high sampling rate that is well above the CD quality standard of 44.1 kHz. In fact, many professionals often record at a sampling rate of 88.2 kHz. If you plan on doing a mixture of lo-fi and hi-fi recordings, you may have to compromise on the recording device you choose by selecting a product that only allows you to set a sampling rate as high as 48 kHz. However, this sampling rate is more than high enough for most amateur audio purposes.

Consider where you will use the multitrack recorder:
Multitrack recorders are available in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from being small enough to comfortably hang around your neck to being too large to even consider moving from its location. For field recordings, choose a portable multitrack recorder that you can comfortably hold in one hand. If you travel around recoding musicians, select a solid state recorder that is easy to transport in a backpack or messenger bag. If you have no need to transport the multitrack recorder anywhere, you are free to choose any size that works for you and your space.

Decide if you prefer hardware or software:
Some musicians and producers thrive when using hardware, but not when using software and vice versa. If you’re a hands-on person who struggles with software interfaces, you might want to stick with hardware. However, keep in mind that many software applications offer far more features and audio sampling-rates than their hardware counterparts. They can also save you money and are endlessly expandable since it is possible to add additional audio plugins to the application. People who like to use both hardware and software may want to consider purchasing a digital audio workstation (DAW), a portable audio interface, and a MIDI controller to control the software.

Figure out which audio formats you need:
Different software and hardware recorders will allow you to record in varying audio file formats, such as WAV, AIFF, and MP3. While some recorders will allow you to choose your preferred file format, others will not. Check the technical specifications on the digital recorder to figure out which formats it uses.

Always follow the cardinal rule – Try before you buy:
Finally, never purchase a digital multitrack recorder without trying it first. Trying out most software solutions is relatively easy: Download a demo version from the Web and use it until it expires. For hardware based systems, you’ll need to find a store that sells the digital audio recorders you’re interested in. Always call before you arrive to make sure they have what you’re looking for.

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